2022 EuroLeague Final Four: Barcelona vs Real Madrid Analytics Preview

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The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. The EuroLeague Final Four is set to start in Belgrade. Barcelona, Olympiacos, Anadolu Efes, and Real Madrid will be battling for the prestigious EuroLeague trophy.

A lot has been said and written about the Final Four. What I want to add is an analytics view for Barcelona’s game against Real Madrid.

Whether you’re a EuroLeague fan (click here for all EuroLeague content) or a basketball analytics enthusiast (click here for tutorials and guides), this is for you!

Shooting Efficiency and Performance Index Rating

Regular season leaders Barcelona had a stressful series against Bayern Munich, with coach Trinchieri managing to lock down stars Nick Calathes and MVP Nikola Mirotic.

Spanish rivals Real Madrid, on the other hand, swept Maccabi. Many players performed better than they did during the regular season: Sergio Llull, Causeur, Hanga, Poirier, and Williams-Goss all stepped up.

Offensive and Defensive Ratings

Offensive and defensive ratings refer to the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Defining a possession is a challenge in itself. Have a look here on NBA Stuffer for a deeper definition and explanation of possessions. Two different formulas that estimate the number of possessions in a game are borrowed from nbastuffer.com and can be found below.

Basic Possession Formula=0.96*[(Field Goal Attempts)+(Turnovers)+0.44*(Free Throw Attempts)-(Offensive Rebounds)]

More Specific Possession Formula=0.5*((Field Goal Attempts + 0.4*Free Throw Attempts – 1.07*(Offensive Rebounds/(Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Defensive Rebounds))*(Field Goal Attempts – FG) + Turnovers) + (Opponent Field Goal Attempts + 0.4*(Opponent Free Throw Attempts) – 1.07*(Opponent Offensive Rebounds)/(Opponent Offensive Rebounds + Defensive Rebounds))*(Opponent Field Goal Attempts – Opponent FG) + Opponent Turnovers))

It’s quite obvious that a team should strive to have a high offensive rating and keep the opponents to a low offensive rating, i.e. a low defensive rating.

Real Madrid is the team with the best defensive rating in the whole EuroLeague season. Offensively they have been just above average.

Barcelona has been amazing at both ends of the court. The Spanish side was the only team besides Olympiacos within the top four teams in the league – 3rd in offense and 4th in defense.

Four Factors

The Four Factors were defined by Dean Oliver in 2002 in his book Basketball on Paper. They answer the question “what are the main strategies related to success?”. The Four Factors can be simply described as Score, Protect, Crash, and Attack:

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage
  • Turnover Ratio
  • Rebound Percentage
  • Free Throw Rate

Effective Field Goal Percentage

Effective field goal percentage, or eFG%, accounts for the fact that a three-point field goal is worth more than a two-point field goal, as described by basketball-reference.com.

The formula is (FGM + 0.5 * 3PM) / FGA

Barcelona is 1st in terms of offensive eG% among the whole league. Real Madrid is just 6th.

In terms of defensive eG%, Barcelona is 1st and Real Madrid is 2nd. Could this turn out to be a defensive battle?

Dean Oliver put weights on each of the Four Factors and estimated that 40% of a team’s performance is dependant on its eFG%.

Turnover Ratio

The Turnover Ratio is essentially an estimate of the number of turnovers either committed or forced per 100 possessions.

Dean Oliver estimated that 25% of a team’s success is dependant on the turnover ratio.

Barcelona is the team with the worst turnover percentage – almost 19% of their possessions end up being lost.

Rebound Percentage

The Rebounding factor is considered the third most important of the four factors with a 20% weight. A team should strive to have high rebound percentages at both ends.

The offensive rebound percentage is calculated by the formula:
 OReb / (OReb + Opp DReb).
The defensive rebound percentage is calculated by the formula:
 DReb / (DReb + Opp OReb)

Rebounding is an area that Real Madrid just dominates at both ends of the court. Their defensive rebound percentage is far greater than the rest of the league, a lot better than Barcelona’s 7th best ranking. Real is also great in offensive rebounding, where Barcelona is 4th.

Free Throw Rate

The Free Throw rate is the last of the four factors and Dean Oliver had assigned a weight of 15% importance.

It is calculated by dividing the number of free throws made over the number of field goals made.

Barcelona fouls – a lot! Over 25% of all shots they receive come from free throws. At the same time, they get fouled the most – around 23% free throw rate.

Shot Preference

Barcelona really really likes those drives! No other team in the EuroLeague attacks the basket with this much intensity. It’s interesting that the team’s preferred 3-point area is from the top and the wings, not much from the corners.

I do not know why Real Madrid shoots from where they do. It’s no secret that the mid-range shot is not a good shot option. This shot chart proves why Real is a below average team in effective field goal percentage.

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